As it becomes more widespread and acceptable to pursue an advanced degree program online, more employers are recognizing the advantages afforded by remote learning, particularly in terms of convenience. Many employers support the pursuit of an online education, as it allows for employees to meet their various obligations (including professional obligations) much more conveniently than a traditional academic setting would permit. Military service, however, is a different story; while the convenience of an online degree is still recognized, the United States military is notoriously demanding in terms of being the first, last, and often only obligation on a serviceman or woman’s time. Individuals who are currently on active duty often have a lot of trouble holding down additional work, pursuing a degree, or otherwise accommodating additional, ongoing demands on their schedule.
That being said, there are online schools which are particularly friendly to members of the armed forces, offering additional flexibility and other options to help ensure that they are able to complete their degrees in a respectable period of time — despite their military obligations. What do these schools offer, what makes them better for active duty military personnel, and how can they be easily identified?
Likelihood of Acceptance
There are a number of factors to take into account when evaluating the suitability of a school, before you get to considering individual programs or courses. One of these is the likelihood of getting in, which isn’t a certainty — even for an online program (which requires a certain amount of administrative support). Look for two key factors: first, unlimited enrollment. The most highly rated and widely praised military-friendly schools do manage to present unlimited enrollment for their online courses. Second, look for limitations on the Yellow Ribbon program for financial contributions. The most military-friendly schools allow for unlimited Yellow Ribbon contributions.
Relevant Programs, Affordable Tuition
An online college or university which is friendly to military students will have a wide range of online courses available, encompassing as many different programs as they can. Significant effort is put into making the highest quality of educational content as accessible as possible, for as many students as possible, regardless of potential scheduling conflicts. This will also be coupled with an affordable tuition, which may sound like a contradiction in terms to the modern student. However, many of the most military-friendly online universities and long-distance learning programs have tuition rates of under $20,000 per year; some go as low as $12,000 annually for high-quality, highly accredited degree programs.
For a school to be considered military-friendly, there is more to consider than the financial and scheduling obligations of individual courses. The institution itself should offer resources specifically tailored to students who are currently active in the U.S. military. These generally include a strong, readily accessible support network for military students and their families. Support networks usually consist of easily accessible and comprehensible benefits and resources, which are specifically tailored for military students, as well as online communities set aside specifically for military students. This allows members of the military who are currently enrolled with the school to share helpful strategies for facing scheduling conflicts and other common problems.
Remember to do your research before putting time into an application, and look for as many favorable factors as you can find. A truly military-friendly school is one that goes out of its way to accommodate your scheduling needs, while presenting you with relevant educational options which are at once high-quality and affordable.